Briefly, Sociability is a combination of other factors that shows whether a piece does better in endgames or in middlegames.

Some pieces are not at home in crowds, do poorly in the hustle and bustle of the midgame, but thrive in the open air of the unfenced endgame, where they can ride all day without bumping into anyone.

Other pieces need the crowds, draw strength from the hurly burly rubbing elbows, indeed live only to help others or can do nothing without help from their friends.

Some, of course, are equally comfortable in both situations.

For a chess variant to have the feel of Chess, it must have a balance of sociability similar to that of FIDE chess.

Antisocial Pieces and Attributes

The Rook is always the prime example of a piece that needs open space; in general, all "runners" are antisocial.

Lame Pieces are Antisocial. The favorite example is the Knight from xiangqi, which is a "lame jumper" because it cannot jump over obstacles; it is much stronger on the sparsely-populated xiangqi board than it would be on the crowded FIDE-chess board.

Move-only powers are antisocial. Why don't Pawns run forward and make new Queens in the opening? Because there's too much stuff in the way.

The ability to retreat, especially to retreat long distances, is more important in the endgame than in the midgame, but it is not exactly antisocial. The endgame bias of this attribute is not caused by a reaction to crowding: at the start of the game, the enemy is always in front of you, but later on it might be important to retreat quickly and catch an enemy pawn.

Social Pieces and Attributes

Social pieces are actually stronger because of the other pieces on the board.

It is obvious that the pieces in CCCC Chess need other pieces to jump over in order to be able to move, and become weaker as the board clears out; obvious that a piece with Relay power is useless unless there are other friendly pieces to which it can lend its power; but less obvious that certain other attributes are social.

Colorboundness is a Social Attribute

One of the great mysteries of piece values has always been the question of why colorbound pieces are not terribly weakened by their inability to see half the board (or more than half, in some cases).

I have come to the conclusion that the colorbound pieces can always find targets as long as there are plenty of enemy pieces on the board, and do not become significantly weaker until the board empties out (at which time, it becomes easier for one side to ignore the squares controlled by the other side's colorbound pieces).

In the case of the Bishop, this effect is masked by the fact that the bishop is a "runner". Runners get stronger as the board clears out. It looks like this effect is stronger than the weakening caused by colorboundness. Bishops get stronger in the endgame, but not to the same degree that Rooks do.

In the case of the DA , the dropoff in strength is much more extreme. In the opening and midgame, the DA seems to be almost a full equivalent for the N, but in the endgame, the N has a winning advantage.

It seems logical that more severly colorbound pieces are also more social.

Weak Pieces are Social

The Levelling Effect is stronger when the board is crowded, so the weak pieces have their effective strength increased a bit when there are more strong pieces for them to attack, the stronger pieces have more trouble running away, and there is a better chance that attacking a stronger piece with a weaker piece will also attack something else with the weaker piece.

Jumping Pieces are Slightly Social

For example, a move of the Dabaaba from e3 to e5 will often be stronger when e4 is occupied; the presence of the screening piece on e4 may allow the D to make a stealthy attack from ambush.

In addition, of course, jumping pieces get a faster development in the opening, which allows them to participate in the middlegame skirmishing much sooner.

Short-Range Capture is Somewhat Social

When the board is crowded, there are many targets to attack, so the chance of finding two targets close together is greater. In fact, even the chance of finding a single target in range of a short-range piece is greater when the board is crowded.

Summary of Sociability

Although I can suggest no way of calculating a "sociability rating", the concept of sociability is important, and an intelligent guesstimate of the sociability should be part of the evaluation of every new piece and every new army.

In case English isn't your first language, "guesstimate" is a popular mix of "guess" and "estimate".

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